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Sh10b sewage shame

NAIROBI, September 12 – About Sh10 billion is required to address a crisis in Nairobi’ sewerage system, authorities reported Thursday.

Athi Water Services Board Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lawrence Mwangi said Sh3 billion had already been raised to unblock and expand sewer lines in Eastlands and along the Nairobi River.

“We have about Sh1 billion specifically addressing sewers in the Eastern part of the city where we have seen a lot of development taking place. Another Sh2 billion will be used on trunk sewers along the Nairobi River and its tributaries; Ngong and Mathare up to their sources,” he added.

Mwangi told journalists that another Sh1 billion swould be used to repair a 27-kilometer trunk sewer line in Zimmerman, Kahawa West and Githurai areas.

Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company CEO Francis Mugo noted that no major sewerage works had been carried out over the last 20 years despite the growing population.

He said only 40 percent of the city was connected to the sewerage system.

“The sewerage network measures approximately 1,550km in length out of which 30km are trunk sewers and the rest are reticulation sewers,” Mugo noted.

He said the network included sewers that were constructed in the 1920’s but continued to serve the same areas that had gone through significant changes in population growth and physical development patterns.

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“In 1973, the first master plan was planned for this City regarding the expansion of the sewerage and it was used effectively up to the late 80’s.”

“In 1998 a second master plan was prepared but never implemented. That is the master plan that we are using today to expand the sewerage network. If fully implemented, it will take us beyond 2030,” Mugo said.

The Athi Water Services Board boss added that there were ongoing efforts by the two organisations to address the root causes of sewer blockages.

Mwangi however said they were facing challenges with encroachment on sewer line way leaves and structures that were on top of sewer lines.

Other challenges, he mentioned, included vandalism and theft of man-hole covers and frames.

“Dumping of solid waste and other materials into sewers or on sewer way leaves is another issue. There is also deliberate blockage of sewers by farmers who use the water,” Mwangi lamented.

The National Environment Management Authority recently issued the Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company with orders to plug up sewer line related discharge points into the Nairobi River.

The company was given a three months notice – expiring early next month – for the implementation of the sewer unblocking component.

Meanwhile, NEMA said it was still working on a mechanism to ensure those settled within the Nairobi River riparian reserve were resettled.

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Director General Dr Muusya Mwinzi said this would ensure there was no more discharge into the river.

“Sometimes development can be controlled; we may not necessarily have to demolish a building if it is adhering to regulations of handling their sewage systems and solid waste,” Mwinzi said.

An estimated 120,000 people living within 30 meters on either side of the river in the major slums will be affected by the clean up exercise.

“We are putting in place a mechanism of short term which covering the next six months, the medium term will be in the coming year then the long term plan is of two years,” Mwinzi said.

“We are thinking of even looking for alternative land somewhere else where there is justification then they may be compensated and assisted to move.”

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